Saturday, February 2, 2008

Beyond Understanding: Ginger

My heart is a little heavy right now. My friend’s mom Ginger passed away recently and the funeral was held just last Saturday. Ginger is such a great lady, always smiling and gentle, a very giving soul. When I think about my friend Jen, I hafta think about Ginger also. They are a pair; Jen is definitely Ginger’s daughter. Mom and I have been going to the same church practically since I was born and some people who have known us both are just recently realizing that we’re related. Jen has Ginger’s smile, which is top ten greatest smile of my life.

Ginger’s passing is tough on me on several levels. I know that it’s not as tough on me as it is for Jen, I can’t even imagine… [From here on, I’m gonna refer to Jen by her nickname, which has nothing to do with her personality. Besides myself, I’ve got a few Jennifers in my life and so de ahora en adelante, Ginger’s Jen will be ‘Savage’.]

Ginger’s service was the fourth that I’ve attended in a little over 2 years. Each difficult in their own way, the first two were early departures, Rachel Anuhea and Albert who I’ve mentioned before. Honestly, I’m feeling a little weird right now just because I cannot do any of these people justice and I want to. In life, they are absolute gems. The next two were both mothers of friends, departure by grave illness; a strange happening is that my friends are also both Jennifers, Savage and the other I’ll call JayLee. Lately, I’ve been to more funerals than my parents and it’s different than going to honor a relative who had many years. Rachel, Albert, Mrs. Lee and Ginger all were taken young.

I know full well that the situations are all much more difficult for their families to go through than it is for me. I am willing to be there for a friend, or for anyone who asks really, in times like these because I care and because it is right that they know that people are here to support them. Yet, it is still taxing because I know them. A strange thing to say but my earliest memory that I am sure of is that of the service for my Beloved Popo [grandmother]. I think that’s part of why I can accept the relationship of life and death; my parents never did that thing about replacing a dead pet because they thought I wouldn’t understand death or be too sad. I might talk about that more another time or I might not.

Savage and I have been friends since I can’t remember when, since at least elementary school. Savage and Ginger go to the same church as Mom and I. Savage is a year ahead of me, I believe she befriended me. We went all the way through high school together. At some point, we began to call each other ‘sister.’ I have several groups of friends, but Savage and I hung out with Jen Y. and Jenny, I said I know many Jens. After h.s., Savage and I have been in and out of contact because life happens, but I’ve carried Savage with me wherever I go; she’s one of my greats.

So, it had been maybe seven years from the last time Savage and I spent time together. At the viewing ahead of me, Mom stopped to talk with Ginger’s parents. Savage was next and as soon as she saw me she called for me, ‘Jenn!’ Broke my heart. I moved past Mom who was talking to Ginger’s parents and I just latched on to Savage. She had been crying of course and I wanted to cry but I wanted to be strong for her. She held me so tightly. I did not wanna let go.

The service was beautiful. Ginger received so many gorgeous flower arrangements. Savage’s husband Josh sang MercyMe’s I Can Only Imagine. Ginger had been in the civil service for 41 years, most recently for the U.S. Pacific Command and so a colonel from the U.S. Army gave part of the eulogy/remembrance. We read Psalm 23 and sang Blessed Assurance and Shout to the Lord. [Now I’m feeling a little guilty ‘cause I didn’t give an account of how beautiful the services were for Rachel and Albert, I wasn’t able to stay for the whole of Mrs. Lee’s service but I’m sure it was good].

And then the reception catered by Tanioka’s. It was good. More relaxed, partly a KUC reunion. Many from Ginger’s relatives go to my church; her cousin is my ‘Aunty’ Shirlynne. I really wanted to talk to Savage for a good amount of time but as it goes people start to leave and make their goodbyes so I had to wait a while. Then I get to talk to Savage and she introduces me to her friend Stephie. Savage is a theater actress, she’s fantastic. Stephie’s into acting as well. They’re gonna be in Brigadoon sometime this Spring, I believe, so I CANNOT wait for that. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen Savage on stage. More hugging ensued. I did not want to let go!

So that’s what’s on my mind right now. I’m gonna include pictures of Ginger, Rachel and Albert. I don’t have a picture of JayLee’s mom; I apologize to JayLee.

God Bless You and mahalo for reading in.

Ginger July 1945 - January 2008

Rachel Anuhea April 1981 - November 2005

This is the picture that Rachel had attached to a note to me the first time I was away for college.

Albert November(?) 1978 - November 2006